Constitution's definition, purpose

DEFINITIONS FOR "CONSTITUTION." The Constitution is that body of rules and maxims in accordance with which the powers of sovereignty are habitually exercised (Cooley, Constitutional Limitations, pg. 4)

With particular reference to the Constitution of the Philippines, it is defined as that written instrument enacted by direct action of the people by which the fundamental powers of the government are established, limited and defined, and by which those powers are distributed among the several departments for their safe and useful exercise for the benefit of the body politic (Malcolm, Philippine Constitutional Law, pg. 6)The Constitution is the basic law to which all laws must conform; no act shall be valid if it conflicts with the Constitution. In the discharge of their defined functions, the three departments of government have no choice but to yield obedience to the commands of the Constitution. Whatever limits it imposes must be observed. (G.R. No. 203754. June 16, 2015)

In Atty. Macalintal v. Commission on Elections, the Court held that, "The Constitution is the fundamental and paramount law of the nation to which all other laws must conform and in accordance with which all private rights must be determined and all public authority administered. Laws that do not conform to the Constitution shall be stricken down for being unconstitutional."

In Manila Prince Hotel v. Government Service Insurance System, the Court held that: "Under the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if a law or contract violates any norm of the constitution that law or contract whether promulgated by the legislative or by the executive branch or entered into by private persons for private purposes is null and void and without any force and effect. Thus, since the Constitution is the fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation, it is deemed written in every statute and contract."

CONSTITUTION'S PURPOSE. The purpose of the Constitution is to prescribe the permanent framework of a system of government, to assign to the several departments their respective powers and duties, and to establish certain first principles on which the government is founded. (11 Am. Jur. 606)

The 1987 Constitution has fully restored the separation of powers of the three great branches of government. To recall the words of Justice Laurel in Angara v. Electoral Commission, "the Constitution has blocked but with deft strokes and in bold lines, allotment of power to the executive, the legislative and the judicial departments of the government." Thus, the 1987 Constitution explicitly provides that "[t]he legislative power shall be vested in the Congress of the Philippines" [Art. VI, Sec. 1], "[t]he executive power shall be vested in the President of the Philippines" [Art. VII, Sec. 1], and "[t]he judicial power shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such lower courts as may be established by law" [Art. VIII, Sec. 1]. These provisions not only establish a separation of powers by actual division but also confer plenary legislative, executive and judicial powers subject only to limitations provided in the Constitution. For as the Supreme Court in Ocampo v. Cabangis pointed out, "a grant of the legislative power means a grant of all legislative power; and a grant of the judicial power means a grant of all the judicial power which may be exercised under the government." (G.R. No. 191618. November 23, 2010)

The discussion above is based on Nachura's (2014) book on political law. His books are available online and in fine book stores nationwide. Please see the following link. SOURCE: SOURCES: Nachura (2014). Outline Reviewer in Political Law. Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura. VJ Graphic Arts, Inc.